Page images
PDF
EPUB

~

I.

3. Reasons drawn from the thing; Sermon which may either be neceffary and concluding, or elfe only probable, and plaufible.

4. The Authority and Testimony of fome Credible Perfon. Now two things give Authority and Credit to the Relation, or Teftimony, or Affertion of a Perfon concerning any thing; Ability, and Integrity. Ability, if he can be prefumed to have a competent knowledge of what he relates, or af ferts, or teftifies; and Integrity, if he may be prefumed to be honest in his Relation, and free from any defign, or will to deceive. And to these Heads, I think all Arguments of Belief may be reduc'd.

II. The Second Thing to be confider'd is the Degrees of Faith, and the difference of them. And that there are Degrees I take for granted, tho' I fhall afterwards have occafion to prove it in a Divine Faith; and these depend perfectly upon the Capacity of the Perfon that believes, or is perfwaded. Now. the Capacity, or Incapacity of C 4 Perfons

j

XII.

Persons are infinitely various, and not Volume to be reduced to Theory; but fuppofing a competent capacity in the Perfon, then the Degrees of Faith or Perfwafion take their difference from the Arguments, or Motives, or Inducements which are used to perfwade. Where Senfe is the Argument, there is the highest and firmeft Degree of Faith, or Perfwafion. Next to that is Experience, which is beyond any Argument or Reafon from the thing. The Faith, or Perfwafion which is wrought in us by Reasons drawn from the thing, the Degrees of it are, as the Reasons are: if they be neceffary and concluding, it is firm and certain in its kind; if only probable, according to the degrees of probability, it hath more or less of doubting mix'd with it. Laftly, the Faith which is wrought in us by Teftimony or Authority of a Perfon, takes its degrees from the Credit of the Perfon, that is, his Ability, and Integrity. Now because all Men are Lyars, that is, either may deceive, or be deceived, their Teftimony partakes of their Infirmity, and fo doth the degree of perfwafion wrought by it:

but

but God being both Infallible, and M Sermon True, and confequently it being impoffible that he fhould either deceive, . I. or be deceived, his Teftimony begets the firmeft perfwafion, and the higheft degree of Faith in its kind. But then it is to be confider'd, that there not being a revelation of a revelation in infinitum; that this is a Divine Testimony and Revelation, we can only have rational affurance; and the degree of the Faith, or perfwafion which is wrought by a Divine Testimony will be according to the ftrength of the Arguments which we have to perfwade us that fuch a Teftimony is Divine.

III. For the Efficacy or Operation of Faith, we are to confider that the things we may believe or be perfwaded of, are of two forts. Either, 1. They are fuch as do not concern me; and then the Mind rests in a naked and fimple belief of them, and a Faith or Perfwafion of fuch things has no effect upon me; but is apt to have, if ever it happen that the matter do concern me: Or elfe, 2. The thing I believe or am perfwaded

fwaded of doth concern me; and then Volume it hath several Effects according to the XII. nature of the thing I am perfwaded of, or the degree of the perfwafion, or the capacity of the Perfon that believes or is perfwaded. If the thing believed be of great moment, the Effect of the Faith is proportionable, cæteris paribus; and fo according to the degree of the perfwafion: but if the Perfon be indifpofed to the proper Effects of fuch a perfwafion by the power of contrary habits, as it often happens, the Effect will be obtained with more difficulty, and may poffibly be totally defeated, by cafting off the perfwafion: for while it remains, it will operate and endeavour and ftrive to work its proper effect. For Example, a Man may believe that Wine is very pernicious to him; and yet a ftrong inclination to it may render it very difficult for this perfwafion to work its proper effect upon him, which is to leave off Wine, and may at length wholly defeat it, by furnishing him with fome colour of Argument that may perfwade him otherwise.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

IV. For the Kinds of Faith they are feveral, according to the variety of Objects or things believed. I fhafl reduce them all under these two General Heads.

1. Faith is either Civil or Humane, under which I comprehend the perfwafion of things Moral, and Natural, and Political, and the like: Or,

2. Divine and Religious, that is, a perfwafion of things that concern Religion. I know not whether thefe terms be proper, nor am I very folicitous, because I know none fitter, and tell you what I mean by them.

The first kind of Faith concerning things Humane and Civil, I fhall not fpeak of, it being befides my Design.

The fecond, which I call a Religigious and Divine Faith, comprehends three things under it, which are diftinctly to be confider'd.

1. A perfwasion of the Principles of Natural Religion, which are known

by

Sermon

I.

« PreviousContinue »